Recently, I had the opportunity to chat remotely with Tyler Sisson, Post 11 Coach and grandson to Al Beavers, to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on baseball, baseball in general, and his project to build an indoor training facility he's named "The Beavers Dam". In the article, you'll quickly see Tyler's heart for the youth of Fairfield County - just like his Grandpa's - and the extraordinary steps he is taking to continue his Grandpa's tradition of serving Lancaster and the surrounding communities.
It's a great read and here is a link to the webpage for The Beavers Dam.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone. How are you seeing it affecting young men who play baseball / spring sport athletes?
COVID-19 has impacted everyone in some way, whether you're a small business owner, employee that had hours cut, someone that likes to eat out or a senior spring athlete. Although it's completely outside of their control, senior athletes have had their careers cut short. This is a sad time for them. They have worked for 4 years to get to this point, whether that is to be a leader of the team, try out for college or pro scouts, or to walk across the field with their parents on their last home game. These are experiences many athletes cherish for a long time and something they'll never get back. My heart hurts for them! Most of them will now move on in life without having played their last game a year ago and not realizing it was their last. There is something memorable about walking onto the field knowing it's the last time. COVID-19 is obviously much bigger than sports and we have to try and stay safe through social distancing. It's just tough as a coach to know what these young athletes are going through and not be able to help them.
Baseball is a tough sport and provides a lot of opportunities to develop not only physically, but emotionally and mentally. What are some life lessons you've learned from baseball and how do you think the sport benefits young athletes?
I feel the sport itself has taught me so much about being a man and a productive citizen. Sports, to me, teach a person most everything they will need to learn when entering the work force. Just a few examples of how sports can shape a person to become successful: 1) Team work. Most sports and Jobs are not done alone. You must be able to communicate and trust that your other teammates can get the job done. 2) Overcoming adversity. Everyone, at times, will fail in sports and in life. It’s not about failing, it’s about how you’re going to pick yourself up and do it again. I think this is the most important thing for any young person to learn. 3) Hard work. Not everything is handed to you in the real world, just like athletics. That is why sports are a great way to learn that you must work hard and often put in extra work in order to get better. To me, sports are the best way for young kids to learn what hard work can do. It’s a way that gives them immediate feedback to push them to become better.
Your grandfather, Al Beavers, has dedicated much of his life to serving our community and coaching baseball. How has that inspired your efforts to build an indoor training facility, which you're calling 'The Beavers Dam'?
The Beavers Dam Project is something I take a lot of pride in. The reason I take so much pride in this is because I have grown up watching my grandfather, Al Beavers, follow his dreams in building a baseball field. His hard work and dedication to own his own field is something I have always admired. Ultimately, watching him work so hard for selfless reasons is what has given me the love and passion for this sport. Seeing all the players who have admired and respected what he has done for them, and how he has impacted each one of their lives, is truly unbelievable to me. From the time I was 8, I knew I wanted to run the field and carry on my grandfather’s passion for this sport. From the time I can remember I have been there beside my grandfather helping in any way I could. Whether that be at 4 in the morning after a long summer’s thunderstorm when there is a game that day and we have to hand rake the whole field to dry it out in time or if it was just a simple as chalking the field for the night’s game. These are the things I remember most from my childhood and growing up. It wasn’t the video games, TV shows or that family Disney trip that most kids remember. It’s those times I was learning life lessons on the baseball field with my grandpa that I remember the most.
The reason this project means so much to me is that I may not be able to carry on my grandfather’s tradition without it. At the point in his life when he started Beavers Field, he was already retired and had a few volunteers that helped him with the day to day operations. The field has always been a labor of love for him and I have admired him for that. He has never taken a dime out of the organization even though he spends 14-18 hours a day working on the field to make sure it’s in the best shape possible. At this point in my life, I unfortunately don’t have the financial means to donate that amount of time while working a full-time job to support my family. Solving that dilemma is my inspiration for The Beavers Dam! My idea started when I was a sophomore in high school, taking a business class. I thought The Beavers Dam may be a way that I could carry on my grandfather's passion for serving the community while supporting my family through training and teaching services, which would be year-round. This would also allow me to reach my goals of giving back to the community through educating and helping young athletes.
What is your primary goal for The Beavers Dam?
My primary goal for The Beavers Dam is to give young athletes the proper training through sports that will prepare them for their future. I feel sports have done so much for me and there is an opportunity to give current and future athletes the proper tools to be better fathers/mothers, husbands/wives and employees. I want to bring the core values and fundamentals back to sports through proper training and just simply caring for each and every player.
A year-round, indoor training facility of this magnitude, and with its potential to greatly impact the community, isn't a small project. How might people help?
We need donations from local businesses and individuals to get The Beavers Dam started. You're correct, it's not a small project and it has a lot of potential to impact our community in a very positive way, just like Beavers Field. Once it's started, it will become self-sustaining and will be diligently managed, like Beavers Field. Beavers Field is a big part of the community. It brings in thousands of out of town visitors annually who stay in our community overnight and spend money at our restaurants and stores. The Beavers Dam will be an extension of that impact, and extend that impact into the late fall and winter months. Really, The Beavers Dam will ensure a year-round, positive impact to the youth of our community and to the local businesses.
Specifically, we need to raise roughly $10,000 to complete the project. We would like to break ground this spring, 2020. We can’t do this if we don't raise the money. We would highly appreciate any contribution businesses or people could make. Every dollar helps, no matter how big or small. We are determined to make this project happen for our community, and we'll do it with excellence like we've done everything at Beavers Field. So, any donations - $1 or $10,000 - will go directly towards building this facility. Every dollar counts, no matter how big or small. I would greatly appreciate any help. It will not only help the youth of our community and local businesses, but will also help me realize my dream of carrying forward my grandpa's tradition and the passion and love he's given me for serving our community.